The end of football

October 21, 2016


In 1979 I  wrote a long article in The Reporter a Catholic teacher’s magazine. It was entitled Catholic schools in Football: Time to Get Out. It caused quite a stir at the time as football was still popular as the autumn sport. I argued on philosophical and ethical grounds that the game was based on violence and to support it in schools sworn to promote the nonviolent ethic of Jesus, the time to quit was now. Almost 40 years later, I am happy to say that football for many other reasons has gone the way of the dodo in Catholic schools. As the modern cliche says, it’s all good. Less than handful are still suiting up. Why?


Today we simply know more about the devastating effects of ,”that detested sport which owes its pleasure to another’s pain” as William Cowper called it in the late 18th century.


The New york Times wrote an editorial on October 15th on this issue—one that should be read in those reactionary parts of the US where football is still king Texas, Alabama etc.


The National Football League began its season last month with a pledge of another $100 million for more research and safer equipment to deal with the traumatic head injuries that have caused premature deaths among retired players and raised threats to the long-term viability of one of America’s favorite, and riskiest, sports.


Not coincidentally, the Pop Warner youth league banned kickoffs for its 5- to 10-year-olds this season to reduce head-snapping collisions among youngsters racing down the field in emulation of professional players.


Fans are now familiar with sad stories of retired pro players suffering from dementia, memory loss and suicidal depression as the aftereffects of hits absorbed on the gridiron. At the other end of the spectrum, parental concern has led to a sharp decline in the number of players in youth leagues for 6- to 14-year olds, from three million in 2010 to about 2.2 million last year. The largest of the youth programs, the Pop Warner league, is facing a class-action suit by parents whose sons were found to have brain degeneration after their playing days.

Amazingly parents are still allowing their most precious charges to play this violent game.

The NFL after paying out millions in a class action suit in 2013 are still ponying up more than $100 million for scientific and equipment research.

No amount of research or equipment change can gainsay the obvious: the game is legalized savagery and for teenage boys still developing with huge weight differentials on the field the game is more like Russian roulette. When the irresistible force meets the unmovable object something’s gotta give…arms, legs, brittle bones and most dangerous of all brains rattling around in skulls.

Listen to the wisdom of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “There’s risks to sitting on the couch,” How inane.


President Obama was much more cautious “It is up to parents to “think long and hard,” about letting their youngsters play the game.”


Why given what we know today would parents take such chances on the most precious and vulnerable people in their families?

Be not afraid—join a movement

October 19, 2016

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matt.14:27

The contemporary Catholic church says,”Be not involved.” Do not sully yourself by diving into history. There may be a cross for you. You may lose friends. Instead be part of the clean up crew, the charity givers, the cheque writers, the historically disengaged. Stay out of coalitions which fight injustice—like Kairos. Go to church and use prayer as a substitute for action.

There is seldom a response to Come follow me. After all it might lead to a cross. Very uncool.
Jim Wallis the great American evangelist many years ago gave the clue to Catholic churches.
Ask yourself if this parish meeting is linked to an outside movement. if not you are wasting your time. More navel gazing, more evading a historical commitment.Take the exit ramp on the way to Jerusalem.
Show me a Catholic parish which openly joins the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Suzuki Foundation, all organizations addressing the greatest moral issue of our time climate justice. There are none. Too risky. Besides we would not be in control.Instead we have some cheap grace, prayers from the pulpit which evade our historical responsibility.


Was the Catholic Church there?


How do we stay compassionate in the face of constant global tragedy?” Presbyterian writer Chris Hedges replied that he tries to maintain a constant relationship with the oppressed; this, he believes, keeps him accountable, despite his own privilege as a white male American.
Hedges said we are watching the rise of fascism through neoliberalism in America. Trump is “imbecilic, idiotic, self-destructive, morally repugnant,” he said, and it says something about our country that Hillary Clinton “is only four points ahead” in the polls. Clinton, he said, “is basically Mitt Romney in drag.”
So how does the average American combat neoliberalism, if our current political process is such a shambles? For Hedges, it comes down to large-scale movements—such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, the Dakota Access pipeline protestsand social justice movements that originated in Ferguson, Mo. “We can’t underestimate the power of living in truth,” Hedges said, “even though it’s outside of the formal mechanisms of power.”
Add to Hedges’ list Kairos Palestine. Catholic churches have turned a deaf ear to the 2009 request from all the Christian churches to fight Israeli occupation.
These movements have the power to influence the political elite, he continued. “The only things they have to offer you in this election is fear,” Hedges concluded. “The moment you stop being afraid, they become afraid.”


Join a movement. There is both strength and solidarity in numbers. Every parish has great people waiting to be set on fire. Don’t wait for father’s permission to act. A wet match can’t start a fire. History is changed by movements. The Lone Ranger died years ago and in the words of Ben Franklin,”We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

From Gaza to Black Lives Matter

October 17, 2016



American institutional Jewish organizations, long out of step with the millenials are panicking now that Black Lives Matter is making common cause with Palestine.

In the age of the Internet when Israeli oppression has been unmasked for all to see, more and more people are paying attention and rejecting the lies promulgated by Israel’s Ministry of Truth which makes Orwell look like a grade one child.

The following is getting wide exposure in black communities.

Sadly there are many African-Americans who have been co-opted into the status quo Democratic position flogged by Hilary Clinton—subservience to israel. Like any other people they are lining up for their turn at the trough, for roles in the Clinton administration. At one time we called these people Quislings, other times sell outs, today?

Here is a lovely letter from Gaza from Mohammed Alhammammi

Dear African-American brothers and sisters,

I am not black. But like you, I am not white.

I do not have the history of slavery you carry like a weight on your back from the day you are born. My ancestors weren’t shipped in chains from Africa to the Americas through the Atlantic to work under slave owners. But in 1948, Zionist militias did drive them out of their homes to refugee camps in an infamous event called the Nakba, obliterating many of our villages and towns.

My parents didn’t have to protest in the streets to end segregation and institutional discrimination by their own government to win the right to enjoy their most basic civil rights, a remarkable series of events that I teach to my own students here in Gaza. However, they have been labelled “stateless” by the international community, driving them to protest through boycotts, demonstrations and even hunger strikes, introducing the word intifada (shake-off) into our political dictionary.

Police officers from my own government neither pull me over for “driving-while-black,” nor stop and frisk me. They do not shoot at me, kill me while unarmed and get away with it. However, I was born under the boot of an oppressor that has controlled almost every minute of my life: the Israeli occupation forces.

They took our land from us, claimed it as their own, and now they tell us to get over it, just like you are expected to “get over” slavery. Israel did not stop there. They’ve blockaded the tiny strip of land where I live, Gaza—controlling who goes in and out, and keeping it to a bare trickle. And the West Bank? They sliced it into small pieces with their military checkpoints, carved it up like Swiss cheese with their illegal settlements.

When we fight back, they beat us to a pulp and then have the audacity to point the finger at us—calling us barbaric. I’ve read that one in three black males born in America today can expect to spend some time in prison during his lifetime. In Palestine, it’s nearly the same. (Forty percent of Palestinian men can expect to serve time in an Israeli prison.)



Ismail Abu Aitah, a writer with “We Are Not Numbers”, who lost five family members in the 2014 war, including both his parents and his two older brothers.


“How dare you resist? How dare you revolt?” we’re asked. We scream, “Here, look! This is the injustice we are talking about!” But although the United Nations talks about the need for Israel to stop the settlements and its mistreatment of Palestinians, no one moves a muscle. The moment we go into action, the moment we fight back, whether it be by responding to weapons with weapons or by calling for boycotts and sanctions, the world starts screaming at us.


The American outrage over U.S. football quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand during the national anthem as a peaceful protest against his country’s systemic racism is a case in point. It reminds me of Israeli outrage against the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, in which activists around the world from colleges, churches, and political organizations are nonviolently resisting Israeli practices, trying to force it to comply with international law and common principles of humanity. Yet despite its commitment to nonviolence, Israelis and their allies are denouncing the movement, seeking to discredit it.


When I see this outrage against BDS and Kaepernick, a question arises in my consciousness: If they do not want us to protest nonviolently, if they do not want our fight to be based on international law and basic human rights, then what do they want us to do? If they denounce violence, then condemn our nonviolent protest, how do they want us to resist? The only answer I could find is this: Our oppressors do not really condemn our methods of resistance, but our resistance as a whole. If they criticize nonviolent methods as well as violent ones, then what they deplore isn’t the methods, but the message itself. They hate the fact that the oppressed are forming a collective consciousness, that we are organizing in opposition. Their anger means we are being effective. We must all keep agitating for our rights, knowing that it will be a long haul but we can win in the end.

I do not have to be black to understand the words of Marin Luther King Jr. when he said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” I am a Palestinian who is extending his arms in brotherhood to another people who know and live my legacy of oppression.

I do not know if my words will reach you, but I want you to know that I hear you, I see you and I feel your pain. When the night is darkest and you cannot seem to see the light at the end of the tunnel, know that there are people out there, on the other side of the planet, who are raising their fists in solidarity.
Yours in solidarity, with fist held high,

Mohammed Alhammami, WeAreNotNumbers.or


No partner to peace? Ridiculous

October 16, 2016

Better than a nice latte at Tony’s in the morning is reading Gideon Levy in Haaretz

The scribe-prophet of Israel, when most of the religious Israelis save Naturei Karta and Avraham Burg has seen their Judaism turned inside out and trampled on, there is always the secular prophet carrying the holy message of liberation.And when Mr. Levy comes to Toronto, no rabbis appear to hear him.


Levy 30
Maybe the prophetic was always entertained like this.
A minority opinion until it became the received wisdom.

So, I trundle off to mass, whistling a happy tune, the prophetic is still alive.

Here Levy eviscerates “the self-righteous Israelis” and their hoary canard that there is no partner for peace.

Harretz Sunday  pewsummaryOctober 16
They so dearly want two states and are so against the occupation, say many self-righteous Israelis — and then comes the heartrending sigh, carrying all the sorrow of the Jewish fate — but there’s no partner. If only there were. If only. He is desperate for peace, but there’s no one to make it with. And so he must, he is forced against his will, miserable victim that he is, to continue the occupation. In recent years this shtick has become a central trick of the propaganda of Zion.

With the exception of the extreme right, which says openly that it wants apartheid forever because the Jewish nation is superior, everybody uses it. The truth is that there is no partner for continuing the occupation. There is no partner for Israel’s interminable delaying and rejection tactics. There is no partner for Israel’s ridiculous talk about demanding recognition as a Jewish state, just as there is no partner for Israel’s other empty demands. There is no partner for the unbelievable chutzpah of Israel’s demand for negotiations “without preconditions,” while the mother of all preconditions, the settlement enterprise, thrives unabated..


.In fact, it’s not necessary. To establish justice, no partner is needed. Israel is not in a position to demand a partner in order to end the occupation. It must end the occupation. It has no right to make demands before doing so. In the fog of Israeli propaganda, these fundamental truths have been obscured and forgotten. The simple fact that the real victim is the Palestinian people has been forgotten. They are in existential danger and they live in inhuman conditions, which must be changed before anything else. Conditions cannot be set for returning part of a people’s land, its liberty and its dignity

Bishops abandon KAIROS

October 14, 2016


Just arrived from Canadian bishops the  CCCB.

(CCCB – Ottawa)… After careful reflection and discernment, the Catholic Bishops of Canada at theirPlenary Assembly, September 26-30, 2016, decided that the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) will end its membership in KAIROS, an ecumenical social justice coalition founded in 2001. This decision followed consultations with the CCCB Permanent Council, the Executive Committee, the Commission for Justice and Peace, and the Commission for Christian Unity, Religious Relations with the Jews, and Interfaith Dialogue.

File it under “If we are not leading the parade, we are not in it.”

This has long been–at least since popes JP ll and Benedict- official institutional practice.If we can not control the agenda we are not part of it. After all we are the Roman Catholic Church.

The JP bishops never had much interest in justice and so they have pulled their funding from KAIROS . All this as they continue their march to irrelevance.
Joe Gunn the Catholic director Citizens for Public Justice, formerly a staffer at the CCCB in a March talk at St Jerome’s University commented:


Today, the capacity and determination of the churches to work for social and ecological justice does seem weak. Service to the world now seems less of a concern than doctrine and maintenance of a shrinking membership base among the largest, historical denominations. Economically, the mainline churches are suffering, with unfortunate cuts to church staff and budgets becoming widespread.

Joe went on to write the following

A month ago I contacted the social ministry offices of Canada’s nine largest Christian churches and asked if they’d answer a few questions about their social ministries. Eight of the nine were more than pleased to do so: only the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops declined to respond. I received helpful replies from the Presbyterian Church in Canada, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, the United Church in Canada, the Christian Reformed Church, Mennonite Central Committee, the Canadian Religious Conference and the Canadian Council of Churches.

Yep, that’s just about how they operate today—they don’t respond and go on their merry way.Father knows best.

Imagine the largest ecclesial body in Canada—albeit a group with less and less followers, generals without armies, refusing to join a Canadian ecumenical justice coalition.

It looks like an “anti-Pope Francis” move.

Harden not your hearts

October 12, 2016

As has just been said: “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion.”
Hebrews 3:15

Dov Waxman a prof at Northeastern University after the mass 2014 slaughter in Gaza asked the question





The well-known American Jewish periodical The Forward published his lamentation. Waxman pointed out that the slaughter, condemned universally and the last straw for many American Jewish millenials, drew yawns from most Israelis.

He wrote:

Their violent deaths do not elicit much anguish or remorse. At most, there is a cursory expression of regret before the blame is quickly placed elsewhere — on Hamas’s shoulders. This ability of some Israeli Jews to so easily dismiss Palestinian suffering is a byproduct of their long conflict with the Palestinians.
More than anything else, it is this constant exposure to violence that explains why so many Israeli Jews seem unmoved by the massive violence their army has unleashed upon Gaza. They are convinced that this violence is a fully justified and necessary response to Hamas’s rocket attacks and tunnel infiltrations.. Palestinians have long since just become the enemy, an object of fear and loathing. As they have been almost completely dehumanized in the minds of many Israeli Jews, their deaths have become all too easily disregarded.

What about American Jews?

I see very little expression of concern for the welfare of Palestinian civilians terrorized by Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire.



Waxman sadly covers himself by bringing in Hamas and their “firecrackers”, those pathetic unmanned rockets that cause little damage in Israel. Nobody defends the fear created in Israel’s border towns but the overwhelming, massive overkill in Gaza is beyond the pale.Israel’s massive propaganda machine providing talking points to American Jews who asked the pathetic question, devoid of any context:”What would you do if rockets were fired at your city?


Waxman to his credit wrote:


Until now, the American Jewish community has rallied to support Israel in word and deed, while almost completely ignoring the suffering of Palestinian civilians. All too often, American Jewish declarations and gestures of support for Israel fail even to acknowledge Palestinian suffering, let alone to provide some concrete relief for it.

What lies behind this apparent callousness? …there is also a belief among many Jews that any expression of anguish or sympathy for the suffering of Palestinian civilians would undermine Israel’s cause and play into the hands of the country’s enemies. This belief is fundamentally misguided.

To sympathize with Palestinian suffering is not to condemn Israel or condone Hamas; it is simply an expression of our humanity, as well as of our Jewish values. The ardent desire to demonstrate solidarity with Israel should not come at the expense of our humanitarian consciences. This not only erodes our moral character as individuals and as a community, but also risks alienating many Jews who rightly agonize over the humanitarian costs of Israeli military actions. As human beings and Jews, we should never let our support for Israel harden our hearts to the suffering of others.

God loves the Blue Jays

October 8, 2016

God loves the Blue Jays.

He must.

Watch the closer Roberto Osuna pray before he pitches.



Another save, another victory.Points upward to the source.

Shut up. Don’t mention Javier Baez of the Cubs.



A Porto Rican, Latino yes.

Schooled in a similar magic. He homered off Johnny Cueto and gave crefit to the Almighty who hovers over ball parks but appears MIA in Haiti.

Who threw the gopher ball…Dominican Johnny Cueto…
Obviously didn’t pray enough.

Der Gott sie mit uns on Nazi belt buckles




I am confused.

Chicago prophet Rabbi Rosen

October 6, 2016

The High holidays of Judaism are upon us.

Rosh Hashanah ended on the feast day of Francis of Assisi OCT 4, the defender of the poor and the name our present pope took to define his papacy.

In Chicago the great rabbi Brant Rosen gave this edifying sermon on Rosh Hashanah in Tzedek Chicago


I believe our core values are part of a larger unified story: a narrative of liberation that runs through the heart of Judaism and Jewish history. It is a narrative rooted in the Exodus story that tells of a God who stands by the oppressed and demands that we do the same. It resonates through the words of Biblical prophets who spoke truth to corrupt power. And it can be found in the courageous example of ancient rabbis who responded to the trauma of exile from the land by creating a global religion with a universal message of healing and hope.

It is particularly relevant to invoke this liberatory narrative on Rosh Hashanah, of all days. Indeed, one of the central themes of this day is the concept of Malchuyot – God’s ultimate sovereignty over our lives and our world…. there is a Force Yet Greater: greater than Pharaoh in Egypt, greater than the mighty Roman empire, greater than the myriad of powerful empires that have oppressed the Jewish people and many so other peoples throughout the world.


I would argue that this sacred conviction has been one of the central driving forces of Jewish tradition throughout the centuries: that it is not by might and not by power – but by God’s spirit that l our world will ultimately be redeemed. I would further argue that this belief in a Power Yet Greater sustained Jewish life in a very real way during some very dark periods of our history. After all, the Jewish people are still here, even after far mightier empires have come and gone. It might well be said that this allegiance to a Power Yet Greater is the force that keeps alive the hopes of all peoples who have lived with the reality of dislocation and oppression.


I will submit to you, however, that we have tragically betrayed this Jewish narrative of liberation in our own day. With the onset of modernity, we have largely surrendered the ideal of “not by might and not by power” through a kind of Faustian bargain with might and power. We now embrace a new narrative – one that responds to trauma not with a message of healing and hope, but by placing our faith in humanly wielded power. Our new narrative teaches that the pain of our Jewish past will inevitably become our future unless we embrace the ways of power and privilege; nationalism and militarism.


Historically speaking, we know what can happen when religion has been used to justify the aims of empire. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as Constantinian religion, in reference to the Emperor Constantine, who in the fourth century began the process of making Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. In that one critically historic moment, what had previously been a small and persecuted religious community in the first century after Jesus, became a religion of state power. We know the rest. The Jewish people in particular know all too well the sorrows that inevitably ensued from Christianity’s bargain with empire.



In our own day, however, the Jewish people have made a similar kind of tragic bargain. Jewish theologian and thinker Marc Ellis has coined a term for it: “Constantinian Judaism.” With the onset of Zionism and the establishment of the state of Israel, Judaism has now itself become wedded to empire. The unavoidable focal point of Jewish life is now a Jewish nation-state that venerates Jewish power, Jewish militarism and Jewish privilege. Although Israel was established through a mythology of Jewish liberation and a “return to the land,” it has done so on the backs of that land’s indigenous inhabitants. The unavoidable truth is that the Jewish nation state has come into existence – and is continuing to justify its existence – through the oppression of the Palestinian people.


It is difficult to underestimate the extent to which Jewish life now centers on the rationalization and perpetuation of this new Jewish narrative, this new deal with empire. As Marc Ellis points out, we American Jews are deeply implicated in this new Constatinian Judaism:


(The) Jewish establishments in America and Israel have made their own empire deal. Jews are blessed in America. America blesses Israel. What is good for one is good for the other. For the protection American foreign policy offers Israel, Jews offer their support to the American government. (“Future of the Prophetic,” p. 36)


This new narrative has also become an indelible part of American synagogue life. There are so many examples I could point to. Here in Chicago, almost every synagogue has a sign in front with American and Israeli flags that proclaim, “We Stand With Israel.” Congregational religious schools and Jewish camps routinely cite “cultivating a connection to Israel” as an essential part of their curriculum. Perhaps most symbolically telling: it has become standard in most American synagogues to place a US and Israeli flag on either side of the Aron Kodesh.

In other words, in our most sacred Jewish spaces, we are literally bowing down to physical symbols of national power. This is a powerful demonstration of how completely this new narrative has taken hold of post-Holocaust Jewish identity. To my mind, it is nothing short of idolatry – and our inability to recognize it as such shows just how deeply we have bought into a religious mindset that radically values physical power over spiritual power.

Israel against the world

October 2, 2016

As usual it is the journalist prophet, a former aide to Shimon Peres who nailed the real problem in ISRAEl


It’s the occupation stupid is a précis of Gideon Levy’s column on Sunday October 2

But then the brilliant and inclusive Israeli newspaper Haaretz is read by 4% of the Israeli populace.40% read the freebie paid for by the Netanyahu idolator, Sheldon Adelson. It is the equivalent of FOX news.and in the end it is the real enemy of Israel and peace in the Middle East.It is people like Levy who are the true patriots



Levy has insisted for years that Israelis are the most brainwashed people in the world.

Here is part of his column:
On Friday, the world made a very clear and resolute statement: we love Israel and hate the occupation; we love Israel and hate its policy; we love to love Israel, long to embrace it and admire it — just give us a sign, a hint, a signal. Show that you are headed toward peace, that at least you are doing something toward ending the occupation — a speech, negotiations, a conference, lip service, anything — and we’ll shower you with all our love, even more than you deserve. You won’t be pariahs.


You are currently pariahs not because you’re Jews and not because you’re Israelis — don’t believe your demagogic leaders, who tell you this to absolve themselves and you of the heavy responsibility and blame. You are pariahs because you are brutal occupiers. You are pariahs because you thumb your noses at the world and its institutions, as almost no other country would dare do. The whole world is against us? Nonsense! It is Israel that is against the world. It’s not important what Israel does? That’s the only thing that is important. An end to the occupation will end Israel’s pariah status.

Jonathan Kuttab —still hoping pt 2

October 1, 2016


New thinking for a new moment was Jonathan Kuttab’s message at Beit Zatoun September 26. This is a precis of his remarks then…pt.2

The 2 state is obviously dead. No one will remove 600,000 illegal settlers, You’ve won.your facts are on the ground–illegally. So what is next? What does it mean for the Jews of Israel.The Palestinian Arabs are second class but they are going nowhere.What are you going to do about it?

The combined Palestinian population creeps to 50%.

Does this mean one state?

It is obvious that world opinion prohibits any more ethnic cleansing. So what is to happen?

Is Israel a democracy? Well, democracies must accommodate minorities but Israel is becoming more and more right wing —and the youth are worse than their elders.There is greater racism, moves to fascism and Jews of America are increasingly uncomfortable with this trend in Israel, no longer the world’s darling. Its success at occupation has succeeded only by ignoring international treaties and Jewish values.


Now in their desperation, Israel and its American friends no longer debates but attempt to shut down criticism by going right to the top —to schools, newspapers– just as they as they did with Toronto teacher Nadia Shoufani.


I was just in Saskatoon . Nobody showed up to debate me—they just went to the dean of the law school and demanded they have another speaker to balance me. It is impossible they were told. The school invites many speakers. This is the new modus operandi. Never debate. Go to the top and demand.


In the USA, AIPAC and American billionaires demand politicians end BDS.They know the USA will veto any progressive movement.They simply do not care but many Jews have had it with Netanyahu’s overbearing arrogance.